US Senate passes bipartisan infrastructure bill; Manchin, Capito in favor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Senate has passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal after weeks of negotiations between colleagues as well as discussions with the White House.

The chamber on Tuesday voted 69-30, with 19 Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the legislation. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., backed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes $550 billion in new spending over five years on physical infrastructure issues, including road and bridges, broadband, water and electricity systems, and resiliency needs.

Lawmakers have pushed for increased investment in the nation’s infrastructure due to the poor state of systems. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States a “C-minus” and West Virginia a “D” in the organization’s recent infrastructure report card.

Manchin is part of the bipartisan group that reached a deal with the White House. Capito led early talks between Senate Republicans and the Biden administration, although both sides did not reach an agreement. She served as a floor manager for the bill, in which she was responsible for moving the measure through the amendment process.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (Office of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin)

“Our bipartisan bill will help West Virginia, and every other state in the nation, address the infrastructure needs of our nation while creating good-paying jobs and growing the economy. This type of investment hasn’t been made in three decades. And today, the Senate passed our bipartisan legislation to help America compete in the 21st century,” Manchin said in a statement following the vote.

“This success proves to the nation, and the entire world, that Congress is not broken and when we create compromise together, by reaching across the aisle and forging true relationships, we can accomplish big things. I have always said that the best politics is good government, and I’m incredibly proud of my bipartisan colleagues for their tireless efforts to get this across the finish line and deliver on this major investment in the needs of America.”

Manchin also joined a group of senators in a statement following the vote; the five Republicans and five Democrats called the vote a “historic victory for the American people.”

“Importantly, this achievement is a testament to what we can achieve when we join together and do the hard work it takes to move our country forward. This historic bill is the product of months of good-faith negotiations between Republicans and Democrats unified in their desire to do right by the American people,” they added.

The measure dedicates $110 billion toward road and bridge projects, $65 billion for broadband deployment and grants, $55 billion for water infrastructure needs like lead pipe replacement, and $65 billion for electrical grid resiliency and technology developments. According to the White House and Manchin’s office, West Virginia will receive billions of dollars for improvements, including $3 billion for federal-aid highway programs, $506 million for bridge replacement and repairs, and at least $100 million for expanding broadband coverage.

The measure allocates funding for Corridor H and the Appalachian Development Highway System — a network of corridors connecting Appalachian communities to interstates — as well as $1 billion for the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal agency focused on economic development in 13 states from Mississippi to New York. Gayle Manchin, the wife of the senator, is the body’s federal co-chairman.

“After months of negotiating and a long amendment process where both parties were able to have their voices heard, the Senate voted in a bipartisan way to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” Capito said. “This legislation reflects our commitment to keeping Americans safe, improving our global competitiveness, and growing our economy. It also includes transformative wins for West Virginia and our entire nation.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

Lawmakers have cited committee efforts as crucial actions in reaching a deal. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a $35 billion water infrastructure proposal in April and a $311 billion surface transportation bill in May. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in July advanced a measure allocating more than $100 billion for various energy matters, including electric grid reliability and cleaning up abandoned energy infrastructure and mine lands.

Capito serves as the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Manchin is the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman.

The bipartisan bill is supported by repurposing unused coronavirus relief funds and enhanced unemployment insurance money, as well as future government auctions, fees, and delaying the Medicare Part D rebate rule affecting prescription drugs. Senators additionally expect $56 billion in economic growth stemming from a 33% return on investment from long-term projects.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation will add $256 billion to deficits over the next decade.

“The American people elected us to do tough work, and tough compromises are necessary to develop and pass bipartisan legislation like we did today,” Capito said. “The core infrastructure investments that will result from this legislation are all investments not just for now, but also for the next generation. I’m glad that both sides were able to work together to make this legislation a reality and push it across the finish line in the Senate. I urge my friends in the House to move swiftly so we can send it to the president’s desk and deliver results for the American people.”

Following the vote, the Senate began considering a blueprint on a $3.5 trillion package on social issues. The chamber voted 50-49 along party lines to begin debate on the resolution; Manchin and Democrats supported the motion while Capito joined Republicans in opposition.

Democratic senators on Monday unveiled the broad proposal, which includes expanding Medicaid, universal pre-kindergarten, investments in education and health programs, and funding to support clean energy technologies and manufacturing. The sweeping proposal includes tax increases impacting wealthy Americans and corporations with the promise of no tax increases for people earning less than $400,000 annually.

Senate Democrats can pass the legislation in the split chamber through budget rules and Vice President Kamala Harris delivering a tie-breaking vote. Democrats also face a challenge in the House of Representatives with the party’s three-vote majority. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has stated the two bills should be considered together.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced Tuesday the chamber will return to session on Aug. 23 to consider multiple measures, including the budget resolution.

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